“When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:22-23, NLT).
My initial efforts in the ministry began with the youth. I was a pastor of a small church. My resources limited my dreams. How could I do what bigger churches accomplished? So, I started the youth ministry in Marianna PA from scratch-with no resources.
One day, I peered out the parsonage window and watched a group of young teenage boy playing football. I noticed that there was one fellow who bullied the others. He would push them over when they weren’t aware he was behind them. I walked outside to watch and they asked if I wanted to be involved. I thought, “No, I’m not going get beat up by a bunch of teenagers,” but then, I thought better. I know that I needed involvement in their life if they would ever consider anything I would say or do. They placed me on one of the teams. The other side kicked off. Low and behold, the pigskin rolled right to me. I picked up the ball and started running. Out of the blue, the only kid running full force at me was the bully. We collided into each other and he fell over while I stumbled into the make-shift end zone. Embarrassed, he got up and left. Almost immediately, all these boys became a part of the youth ministry at the church.
Through the years, the youth ministry developed in many ways. I was involved in church camp, music ministry, bible studies, retreats, and mission trips. It changed my life! I loved it! Although I had no idea what I was doing, I knew God could use the youth at the Marianna church. I believed I could connect with them and be their pastor. My experiences in youth ministry taught me to be dependent on God to reach, touch, and bless the lives of the young people I’ve met. Here is the principle I learned from that experience that I apply in all my ministry:
If I want people to be interested in what I say as a preacher,
I need to be involved and interested in what they say and do, FIRST!
Again, evangelism commences with my sincere concern and engagement with others lives, no matter, their issues or backgrounds. John 3:16,17 (The Message) says,
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
The GOOD NEWS of Jesus spreads first by embracing the lives of others. This is truly, what I believe the Incarnation of Jesus was all about. God with us!